I learned to knit when I was about 8, and have been knitting on and off since then, but mostly on since I was about 25. I write knitting patterns, and occasionally teach knitting classes or do private lessons. I also knit for others on commission, as my neighbours would probably give me the side-eye if I knit a house cosy, and I knit a LOT.
M: How did you get interested in weaving? What was your first project?
K: My journey to weaving was fairly typical, I think. I moved to a new town,and got involved in the yarn shop there, eventually teaching weekly classes, and working on samples and custom orders for the owner. I met a woman who was teaching a drop spindle class, took it, and learned to spin my own yarn. That lead to the purchase of a spinning wheel, and joining the local, very prolific, Weavers and Spinners guild. At meetings, I was exposed to the amazing things that the weavers brought to "show and tell", and signed up for a beginners weaving class in short order. That was about 6 years ago now, and I have never looked back. I think my first project was a piece of cloth meant to become a small bag for my knitting notions (we won't discuss the fact that it is still just a piece of fabric!), and then during that first class, I put a second warp on the loom that I was using, and wove two complimentary scarves as gifts for my grandparents. The instructor of that class noted in a report to the guild that she had never has anyone finish their first project within the class duration (a three day weekend), never mind put on and finish a second project!
I used rented guild equipment for the next few projects, mostly smaller pieces of fabric, and scarves, for a few months, then bought a small table loom of my own. Very shortly after that, I found a handmade loom for sale for a good price, and bought it, not realizing that it needed "a little" work. I spent about two months cleaning all the rust of the heddles and the other metal parts, I made a new handle from oak and attached the original pawl to it, then I sanded and refinished the entire loom. Once all of that was done, I put it together and started weaving larger pieces on my own.
M: How did you decide to start weaving baby wraps?
K: Weaving baby wraps was not really a decision. I was contacted by a friendwho asked if I would weave one for her. I really did not know much about baby wraps (and I am still learning), but she was great, and was able to tell me all the things I needed to know as a weaver. I am a weaver, pure and simple, and for me, baby wraps are fabric. I love playing with yarn and colours, so anything that allows me to do that makes me happy.
M: What is your biggest source of inspiration?
K: I often use photos for inspiration, for all of the fiber arts I make. especially like nature photos, and a glorious bright hued sunset is just as appealing to me as a forest photos with complex greens, greys, browns, and yellows. I truly enjoy taking a pile of colour, and making it something special. I also like to blend the things I have in my stash, and find ways to make "leftovers" appealing. I try to keep my stash to a minimum, so I like to use many colours in random orders for things. I think those make the best functional items, as tea towels, placemats, whatever item you can think of that needs to hide splashes and stains. These warps are very close to my heart, as I love that they look plain from a distance, with the weft colour dictating the overall colour, but when they are viewed close up, they become complex riots of many colours.
M: Do you/ Did you babywear?
K: When my kids were smaller, I often used a sling to carry them, but I didn't consider myself a "babywearer." For me, it was a more convenient way to carry one of the kids, and still have hands free to do whatever I needed to do.
M: When someone does get a custom with you, what is the process like? How do you get a spot, how much input do they have, what are the options, how long does it take to get the wrap finished?
K: My business model is different from many weavers, in that I do not "reserve spots". At any time, I generally have 3-5 custom orders in varying stages, but when I take a deposit, I am ready for work with my client to create something special. The whole process from start to finish can take anywhere from 2-3 weeks, to several months, depending on many factors, but once a deposit is made, work begins immediately. I feel that not having months long wait times just to start a design serves my clients best, and allows me to create things with a clear conscience.
When I do a custom weaving order, the process is always roughly the same, no matter what item I am weaving. My client always has control, although I do reserved the right to limit options based on the equipment I have, and the fibers available. For custom fabrics, clients generally have a basic idea of what they want. The decisions that need to be made are many, but I do my best to walk clients through the process, with as much information as I can give them, without overwhelming them.
The first step is a deposit, for custom orders this is currently $150, with $50 of that amount being non-refundable. Then we make choices about the fiber(s) that will be used. This is important, because it can have a significant effect on how much yarn is needed overall, and even more importantly, which colours are available. Once the fiber is decided, we work on a colour palette, and I send a file containing one or more palettes for the client to choose from, based on their ideas for colours. Sometimes I add in additional colours that I think will add to the design, but the client always gets the final say. Once a colour palette has been chosen, the look of the piece is discussed. Gradations, stripes, pinstripes, random colour mixing, all things are possible here! When the client has decided what they think they want, I do a mockup on the computer of the warp, with colours as close as possible to those that will be used. This process sometimes is very quick, with just one or two mockups, and sometimes it take significantly longer, with many changes, both major and minor being made along the way. Each mockup takes me anywhere from 15 minutes (a few minor changes) to an hour (a whole new design) to do, and I need client comments to perfect the design, so this can be a long process.
Once the warp design is complete, the weft is chosen. This is usually fairly quickly done, although there are many choices for fiber and colour. I am slowly building a "library" of colour combinations that I can send to clients to help them see how colours look together when woven. I also can put the colours into weaving softwear, which helps, although it is limited in the colours available. At this point, I ask the client for final approval of the design. The fibers and colours are chosen for both warp and weft, the design is complete, and no further changes in the design may be made.
Weaving time, like many of the steps in a custom fabric, is variable. For basic fabrics, I mostly am able to weave a 12 m length within a week, however life, family obligations, and other factors sometimes alter the timing. I always stay in touch with my clients, and keep them informed of what stage their order is in, expected timing, and of course, any delays.
I try to have between one and three orders in design, and as final approvals are given, that is the order of weaving. This allows me to be productive, and not have empty looms, but it also minimizes wait times for warps to go on the loom. I aim to have a warp measured and ready to go on the loom as soon as the current warp comes off the loom.
I also allow returns on custom items, within a limited time of mailing the item out, which is unusual for custom items.